Going back just a few years, blood pressure was the number one guideline to determine a patients health status in the medical field. That has changed, both because blood pressure is highly inaccurate – most people get anxious when they see the blood pressure measuring equipment and as such get further raised blood pressure values due to anxiety, but also because high blood pressure can be a chronic condition that is not linked to an immediate threat.
However a chronic high (hypertension) or low (hypotension) blood pressure can be a marker for health related issues, and most of them are diet induced.
But what is blood pressure ? Blood pressure consists of two readings – systolic value and diastolic value. When your heart beats, it contracts and push blood through your body – this creates pressure on your arteries and is the systolic blood pressure. A normal systolic blood pressure is 120 or below. Consistent readings of 140 or higher is considered hypertension.
The Diastolic value indicates the pressure in the arteries when the heart rest between beats. A normal diastolic blood pressure is 80 or less, and a value of 90 or more, on consistent measurements is considered hypertension.
Knowing that, why could my blood pressure go up or down ? In acute incidents of high or low blood pressure it could indicate a heart problem, heart attack, stroke, an infection, and anxiety attack or general ill-being. Pulse is also an important co factor here. But something as simple as lack of sleep can cause rapid hypertension.
However in this article I want to move away from the acute cases ( which by the way should always be treated by a physician or qualified medical professional) and move over to the chronic cases.
High blood pressure can be an indicator of heart disease or diabetes and should function as a clear sign of chronic inflammation, and these are the first things you should look for in cases of chronic high blood pressure. Most common to get chronic high blood pressure is: those older then 55, overweight, inactive, heavy alcohol drinkers, smokers and those who regularly use medications such as Ibuprofen and Asprin. Same goes for regular use of decongestants ( for nose clots) and illegal drugs such as cocaine.
The medical profession states that in 95% of Essential Hypertension ( Chronic high blood pressure) the cause can not be determined.
This is where all common sense stops as they say ” We don’t know why your blood pressure is high, but take this drug it will help you”.
The reason why it is like that – and the US number more or less mirrors the rest of the world is that doctors don’t know anything about nutrition. There’s a point to why the education they take to become physicians is called medicine and not health. Because a physician is not supposed to know what to do to make you healthy, only which medicine to give you once it’s to late.
One essential contributor to chronic hypertension is the imbalance between the two fatty acids Omega 3 and Omega 6. In Europe we consume on average 15 times as much Omega 6 as we do Omega 3. if you doubt me, just ask yourself how many fatty fish you ate the last week, and then start reading labels on your groceries – if you find words like soy, canola, rapeseed etc. then it’s Omega 6.
The problem with hypertension and imbalance between these two essential fatty acids is that they both serve different roles in regulating blood pressure.
Omega 6 is a precursor to a hormone like substance that promotes vasoconstriction, while Omega 3 is a precursor to a hormone like substance that promotes vasodilation. This means Omega 6 makes the arteries contract and Omega 3 makes them dilate or expand.
This is one of several reasons why optimal balance between Omega 6 and 3 should be 1:1. Now imagine that you have two different armies of workers running around in your arteries. One of them contracting and the other dilating. What would happen if for each dilating worker you had 15 or more contracting workers? Exactly your arteries contract and your blood pressure goes up.
But the Omega 6/3 balance is not the only factor when it comes to chronic high blood pressure. Vitamin D plays another essential role.
What we know is that the further from the equator we live, the higher the average blood pressure. That tells us that sunlight, hence Vitamin D plays an essential role in regulating our blood pressure.
We know that Vitamin D deficiency will increase parathyroid hormone, and high parathyroid hormone levels will raise blood pressure.
If we look at research towards Vitamin D and blood pressure, then a randomized placebo controlled study published in the American Journal of Hypertension 2012 found that vitamin D3 supplementation significantly decreased blood pressure.
Another study carried out by Center for Clinical & Transitional Science concluded that Vitamin D deficiency “serves as a trigger to contribute to the development of EH (Essential Hypertension) in vulnerable middle-aged people”.
Low blood pressure on the other hand can be just as fatal as high blood pressure but the cause can be much more complicated to find.
Low blood pressure (Hypotension) can be caused by long bedrest, pregnancy, decreased blood volume, medications, endocrine problems, septic shock (blood infection), allergic reactions, standing up in a prolonged period of time, dehydration and nutritional deficiencies.
If you feel symptoms of low blood pressure, and you haven’t been in bed for a long time, been standing up for most part of the day, ain’t having an allergic reaction, you are not pregnant and you are not on medication for Parkinson, Depression, Erectile Dysfunction, and you don’t feel better after drinking a glass or two of water then I would seek medical advice immediately.
However if after receiving medical care, and they’ve ruled out any acute problems, or haven’t found a cause, and the problem continues then you should start taking a Vitamin B12 and folic acid supplement as deficiency can lead to Anemia ( a decrease in red blood cells) and also supplement with Vitamin D to regulate your Thyroid. Both Thyroid conditions and Anemia can lead to low blood pressure.